Libyans in Uganda recognise rebel government

Monday August 29 2011

Members of the Libyan community in Uganda display the pre-Gaddafi regime flag which Libyan rebels have reverted to, at Kamwokya , a Kampala Suburb.

Members of the Libyan community in Uganda display the pre-Gaddafi regime flag which Libyan rebels have reverted to, at Kamwokya , a Kampala Suburb. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI  

By Risdel Kasasira

Libyans living in Uganda yesterday recognised the National Transitional Council as their legitimate government, a day after the African Union Security Council, including host country Uganda refused to do so.

The group yesterday matched from Kololo, near the Libyan embassy to Kamyokya, waving the flag of the NTC government and dressed in white shirts with wordings, “free Libya”.
The chairman of the Libyans in Uganda, Mohamed Ali Wahra, appealed to the Ugandan government to recognise the rebels.

“We request Uganda to expedite the process of recognising the NTC as the only legitimate government since the good and mutual relationship has been between the Uganda and the Libyan people, not the government of Gadaffi,” he said.

The Libyan ambassador to Uganda, Mr Abdallah Bujeldain, was the first employee of the Libyan embassy in Uganda to defect to NTC in March and has since joined the rebels in Benghazi to fight Gadaffi forces. Uganda is one of the African countries that have refused to recognise the NTC. More than 20 African countries have acknowledged the NTC including Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia, and Burkina Faso, that has offered embattled leader, Col. Maummar Gaddafi, asylum.

“We have taken a position as African Union peace and security committee that we shall recognise as AU, a government of Libya which is all-inclusive and agreeing to the ceasefire,” Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Sam Kutesa said.

There was heavy police deployment outside the Libyan embassy in Kololo to stop the demonstrators from entering the embassy. At least 40 Libyan families are living in Uganda, Wahra said. Some of the families are employees at the embassy while others work with the various Libyan investments in Uganda.

When asked why they were recognising the NTC, Mr Wahra said they are fighting Gadaffi’s subjugation of Libyans for 42 years. “He called us rats and he called himself the glory of Libya. But he has now known that Libyans are stronger than him,” he said, “he killed 1,270 prisoners in two hours in 1996 in a prison called Abusalim but their blood was not shed in vain,”

By press time yesterday, fighting was still going on in the Capital Tripoli and neighbouring cities. The rebels defeated Col. Gaddafi loyalists at a border crossing near Tunisia, as the UN says security remains a major concern in the capital.

The BBC reported that on the coast east of Tripoli, the rebel advance on Col. Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte is deadlocked. Agencies reported that there have been steady duels between the two sides, clouds of black smoke hanging over the main coastal road and the intermittent thump of shells or rockets exploding.

Nato has been carrying out multiple airstrikes to try to restore the rebels’ momentum, hitting 21 targets overnight in and around Sirte, including armoured vehicles, gun emplacements, bunkers and a surface-to-air missile launcher.

“There is intensive consultation and negotiation with the community leaders of Sirte,” rebel spokesperson, Mr Shammam told reporters in Tripoli. “We can take it militarily, but we want to take it peacefully.”

Asked about the fate of Col. Gaddafi, who some believe may be in Sirte, Mr Shammam said the fugitive leader would be caught. “He’s running from place to place - we’re going to get Gaddafi, we are following him and we’re going to find him but we’re not going to stop everything waiting for the capture of Gaddafi or his sons.”

Meanwhile Zimbabwe yesterday told the Libyan ambassador and his embassy staff in Harare to leave the country after they defected to the National Transition Council (NTC).

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